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Three Generations of Doctors

By Jane Sowell

McAllister Junior High School - 1971

Additions and corrections by the family are in red.

Many changes have occurred in the training of physicians and what is required of them during the past one hundred and fifty years. It is fascinating to compare the amount of schooling required in the past century with the amount required at the present time. An interesting study is that of the three generations of the Simons family.

Dr. J. E. Simons was born at Athens, Texas on February 9, 1870. His father, John James Simons, died on December 31, 1869 at the age of 27, two months before J. E. was born. As he progressed in school, a pharmacist realized that he was a brilliant young man and provided the money to send him to medical school. J. E. had only completed the eighth grade before he entered medical school. He graduated from the University of Kentucky at Louisville in 1895 and came to Matagorda County in 1896, practicing at a prison farm near Hawkinsville and Caney. It is believed that he came on horseback with his only belongings in two saddlebags. At that time it was not necessary for a doctor to serve an internship before starting out to practice on his own. His first office was in the Matthews Store at Caney.

In 1898 he married Miss Annie Duffy of Matagorda and moved to Bay City where he set up his office over the Matagorda Pharmacy. There were several doctors located there.

The flu epidemic of 1918 was a world-wide crisis. During this outbreak, Dr. Simons would go on horseback, traveling through brush, over dirt paths, treating his patients for this disease. Many of them died, as there was not really any cure for it. Dr. Simons rolled his own pills and had to work with very crude instruments.

Dr. Simons had two sons and a daughter, all of whom grew up to be doctors. He also had a daughter who died at the age of 16 months with pneumonia. One son, Bryan, was born in 1906. He, under the influence of his loving father, also became a doctor. He went to pre-med school from 1924 to 1926 at Rice University. To finish his training, he went to Baylor at Dallas for four years. He was married on January 27, 1930 to Miss Lenore Hall. In the same year, he began his practice in Bay City and was associated for a few years with Dr. Loos. In the early 1940's he had his office in Dr. F. E. Dye's clinic while Dr. Dye was serving in World War II. He moved into his own building one day before the hurricane of September, 1945. He specialized in the bone field, helping and resetting arms, etc. of oil field workers. His wife made this statement: "He was a very proud man, yet he was always honest with his patients. If he could not handle them, he sent them to Houston."

He had a sister, Madelene, who has been in general practice in Santa Monica, California, ever since she graduated. She received degrees from the University of Texas in Galveston and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Madelene was one of only two women in her medical school class when she graduated in 1947. She is very talented at counseling and a year ago had delivered over one thousand babies. Bryan's brother, James Wathen Simons, is a doctor with the Texas Gulf Sulphur Company in Newgulf, Texas.

Bryan Simons, Jr. also became a doctor. He studied many more years than his father because they were required. He was a student five years at the University of Texas and went four years to Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He spent a year of internship at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and got his surgery residency in Baylor Medical School in Houston. In order to keep from being drafted before he finished his training, he signed up on the Berry Plan. In doing this, the government promised not to take him out of school but allow him to finish his specialization with the promise that he would spend two years in the army. He has now served a year and a half and has just five more months to go. However, he will be thirty-two and just starting out to practice while his father started at about the age of twenty-six.

According to his mother, "Bryan Simons, Jr. will be so wonderfully trained and the experience he has had in Vietnam working on the soldiers is amazing. You have no idea of the types of surgery he has been forced to do there. When he comes back, he plans to practice surgery in Bay City."

An interesting prelude to the career of young Dr. Simons was his part in the senior play prior to graduation from Bay City High School in 1955. He played the part of a doctor with Glenda Starnes in the role of his wife, a nurse. Fiction became reality in 1959 when he indeed married Miss Starnes who, by this time, had become a registered nurse.

During the time he was in Southwestern Medical School doing research, in the summer between his sophomore and junior years, he discovered an alsha cell that doctors had been looking for, for twenty-five years. Because of this discovery, he has been flown to Chicago and Los Angeles to give speeches about it. In the meantime, he has continued research and has come up with a kind of operation that would stop peridial peristalsis, a condition when food will not stay in the stomach long enough, but passes out quickly. He reasoned with the idea of cutting the bowel loose and turning it upside down so that the patient may have normal peristalsis. He had flown to medical meetings to give papers on that type of surgery. This shows that one cannot always go by grades because at one time he was delayed entrance to medical school due to some C's in his grades.

James Elmo "Jimmy," the second son of Bryan Simons, Sr., was born in 1944. He graduated from Texas A and M, then went four years to the University of Texas Dental College in Houston and took a year of internship at the University of Vermont in Burlington. He then applied for a residency in pedodontic dentistry (dentistry concerning dental disease in children.) He was one of four applicants accepted. He is getting his pedodontic residency at Children's Hospital in Cincinnati. There, work is done on abnormal children - children with leukemia who have terrible dental problems and mentally retarded children who cannot cooperate. It is a field of its own and there are only 174 pedodontic dentists in the United States at the present time. He has dreams of work in this particular field when he finishes there. He may not succeed in what he wants to do, but he feels it is better to try and fail, than not try at all. Both of these men are ambitious and want to do very well.

There is so much medical knowledge today that the student almost has to specialize in order to learn all he needs to know about a specific field. Advancements are being made rapidly that require him to study much harder than his forefathers.

Henry James Simons, grandfather of J. E., was also a doctor and it is believed that he graduated from the Medical College of South Carolina in 1837.

Coordinator's note: There were many other members of the Simons family who were doctors, but the focus of this paper had to be narrowed to be within the prescribed length limits.

James E. & Annie Elizabeth Duffy Simons

Children of James E. & Annie E. Duffy Simons


Copyright 2006 - Present by the Simons Family
All rights reserved

Dec. 7, 2006
Dec. 7, 2006